Fitbit users: better one-up your friends in challenges while you still can. Starting March 27th, Fitbit will remove all adventures, challenges, and open groups from its app.
It’s a striking move. Before 2019’s Google acquisition (and closure in 2021), Fitbit frequently touted its community and social features as a major strength. Its challenges — competitions between Fitbit users — have been part of Fitbit’s platform for over 10 years and copied by nearly every other smartwatch and fitness-tracking platform. Adventures were introduced later as a type of immersive challenge, where users could take virtual tours of places like Yosemite National Park while hitting step goals. Meanwhile, open groups are exactly as they sound: groups where anyone can join around a common interest. Many have several hundred thousand or even millions of members.
After March 27th, however, users will only be able to create private closed groups with friends. To connect with other users, they’ll have to do so on Fitbit’s Health & Wellness forums. Meanwhile, any trophies earned will also no longer be available. Instead, members will have to interact with friends via the Leaderboard and Community Feed posts in the app. Users will have until March 27th to download their data.
For developers, Fitbit is also removing Fitbit Studio in favor of its command-line software development kit (SDK). Fitbit Studio was for developers who wanted to create clockfaces, as well as third-party apps for the platform.
The move is purportedly part of a larger plan to better integrate Google’s tech. In an email to The Verge, Fitbit said these features were of “limited use.” In the case of the SDK, it makes sense as Google has been pushing its WearOS 3 platform, and third-party apps were removed from Fitbit’s latest Versa 4 and Sense 2 smartwatches. If, however, the community features were truly “limited use,” that’s a troubling sign regarding Fitbit’s user base.
“Fitbit found that these select features had a limited number of active users compared to other offerings, but are unable to confirm specific numbers at this time,” Nicol Addison, head of communications at Fitbit and Nest, told The Verge in an email.
Last week, the Fitbit app suffered a multiday server outage that left users unable to sync their data. But while the timing of this news is curious, Addison says that the decision to remove older Fitbit features is “unrelated to any recent server outage.”